In search of the mythical steelhead and getting hit in the rear

       After a great start to the summer, the second half was a series of trials involving an accident, insurance, a mysterious sound and searching for the mythical steelhead.
       The excitement of the John Day River rafting trip crashed into a two month ordeal starting literally with a young woman crashing into rear of my Escape in early July. The woman did not want to involve the insurance company - something I would never advise now. Ultimately Progressive was involved and after three months I ended up with a new differential but instead of the insurance company paying for it, I paid the $3,000 (BTW - Progressive is a good insurance company if your the insured. I, unfortunately, was the victim).
       The Courtesy Ford Dealership Service Center lived up to their name during the ordeal. Only a few weeks earlier to getting hit, Courtesy did a service check and green-lighted the Escape including the differential which they checked and changed the fluid. After the young woman hit me, I had the body shop fix the bumper damage and make sure they sent the truck to the service center. I heard a strange noise from the rear a couple days after the accident and wanted it checked out.
       That noise was the sound of a failing differential. Progressive decided the age of the vehicle and minor impact outweighed their responsibility to pay anything but a couple hundred dollars for the bumper. Unsure what was going to happen with the insurance, I put in a used differential. Within days, I noticed a clunk coming from the rear and took it back to Ford. They diagnosed it, thought they fixed it and gave it back but the sound would not go away. I ended up working with the service manager and his crew swapped differentials, axles, drive lines, power take off rods and spent 33 hours doing so. The only way to fix the sound was putting in a new differential. By October the Escape was running well and I am back in fishing mode.
        During the three months of vehicle fun I sold my boat, bought a trailer, modified it for kayaks, picked up a used Hobie Pro Angler 14 foot and spent many hours chasing the mythical steelhead. I am no stranger to this wondrous fish, but lately it has taken 10,000 casts to find each one. My trips have included the Columbia and the Deschutes rivers. Look for more stories soon.

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